C&L Latest News Bulletin (Updated 7th December 2015)
Firstly a big apology for the lack of news updates during the last month. This has been totally due to the unprecedented level of orders following the recent batch of Exhibitions and Shows that we have attended. This morning was a good example. We had three times the level of orders that we would normally have on a Monday following a two day weekend show, and this was after just a one day Show (at Reading). The sales for November were more 50%up on the same month last year. Whilst this is great for business it does but a huge strain on our staff and our abilities to make or order in replacement stock. Everything else has to drop by the wayside just to maintain a reasonable level of service. Extra tasks such as maintaining and updating the website along with numerous other tasks just don't get done, even with staff taking packing home and accounts and email being answered late into the evening and very early in the morning. As an example at the Reading Show we sold more track than our two track making staff can physically make in a week. The fact that Reading was only five working days after Warley (where track sales were also excellent) added to the pressure. We had planned ahead and made plenty of track in the lead up to Warley but then web orders went through the roof and we sold most of the Warley stockpile in the two weeks before we even got to the show. It is not just track supply issues either - take DCC Concept's Cobalt range of Slow Action Point Motors, where we have had a special price on offer during November (now extended to December). We could not physically get the boxes of 6 and 12 packs delivered to us quickly enough to keep up with demand. We were getting deliveries every other day and still running short! It would appear that we are not the only trader finding these problems. We have had trouble getting hold of a number of products that we buy in, especially Kadee couplings and some of the DCC Concepts' gauges.
Added to this made rush, we have also been busy expanding our range to include pre-cut etched timbers for soldered track construction (available as plain track, turnouts, diamonds and slips) as well as a collection of beautiful lamps from the steam era (lamp and wall mounted). We will shortly be updating the New Products page with details of these new items.
Finally we have now taken delivery of the first few Ready to Use OO B6 turnouts. These are professionally hand built Turnouts made using C&L and Exactoscale components along with a number of improvements over the current C&L kits. O gauge Turnouts are now on order and will be added to the website as soon as they arrive. As mentioned previously we have to increase the range slowly over a number of weeks or even months due to the time it takes the professional builder to make these Turnouts for us, as he can only offer a certain number of Turnouts each week. We are determined that we don't let customers down by promising something that they then have to wait weeks for. We therefore need to slowly build up stocks and the extent of our range, as there will eventually be in excess of 100 different turnouts available across the OO, EM, P4 and F7 gauges. We can't possibly hold all of these all of the time, as the outlay would be close to £7,000 just for the labour, and that would only give us ONE of each Turnout! We would also have to buy in and tie up a huge level of component parts used in the Turnouts and therefore our slow approach is the only practical way to handle the introduction of these long awaited Turnouts.
(Updated 9th November)
New Thick Flat Bottom Track
We have discovered an issue with some of the jigs that we had made to enable us to produce the new thick track in OO, EM and P4. Unfortunately the problem did not show up whilst testing the jigs prior to starting production. It has therefore been necessary to temporarily remove the flat bottom track from sale whilst the jigs are amended slightly. This is likely to take a couple of weeks. We apologise for this inconvenience.
(Updated 28th October)
We have been able to begin production of OO flexitrack following the issues with the moulding tool which have now been sorted.
Warley Show - 28th-29th November - Please read if attending
This is our biggest show of the year and requires us to take three vehicles to the NEC to convey our stock. However, we still can't take everything and in most cases, we can't fit in great numbers of what we do take. It is therefore essential that wherever possible customers order in advance (preferably online as we are extremely busy getting ready and phone orders take us 3 times as long to deal with). Just click to 'Pick up at show' in the Shipping Option on the Checkout Page and add a note in the Comments Box to say you will collect at Warley. We need to have payment when ordering for this show as we don't have room to take pre-orders and bring them back again if customers do not turn up to collect and pay, which unfortunately does happen. Paying in advance also cuts out the need to queue to pay, simply ask for your package, show you Order Invoice and walk off with your items!
Our last order to Peco & Gaugemaster for their products as well as those for Dapol, DCC Concepts, Metcalfe, Ratio, Wills, & Deluxe will be sent at 10am on Monday 16th November. To ensure that you get what you need please order before then if you require products from these makes. We may show that we have stock of these products but with demand likely to be extremely heaving there are bound to be items that we do not hold enough of to satisfy all off the orders received. Please look and see what you need and order as soon as possible. We will not be able to take advanced orders during the week before the show as we will already have started packing everything up, so please help us by ordering online as soon as you can.
(Updated 4th October)
Fareham Show - unable to attend
You will see from the below photos the reason for us not making it to the Fareham Show. Our van had a massive water leak on the M4 and it was not possible to recover us until mid morning on Saturday. This was due to the extra long wheelbase of the van requiring an extra long tow truck! We finally got back and unloaded at the unit by mid-afternoon on Saturday. Apologies to all concerned.
The last remaining water. The rest was deposited along the M4!
About to leave the Motorway Services on Saturday morning
Home again - all we had to do then was spend another three hours unloading and putting away the stock, having spent three hours loading it two days before!
(Updated 22nd September)
OO C&L Flexitrack
The injection mould tool for OO trackbase has again been found to have a fault even though a number of repairs have been carried out to it following it cracking in half a few months ago. A review will have to be carried out as to whether a new repair can take place to fix the issue with one of the chairs, or if a completely new tool will have to be manufactured. Obviously the timescale for either is unknown at present but should a new tool be required, then a considerable delay is likely until we have OO flexi track available again.
One alternative might be the new 'thick' flexi (using Exactoscale Fast Track bases) that we will be introducing as soon as the new jigs have been returned to us following their re-machining. Please check the News page for updates.
Ready to Use C&L Turnouts
We have now taken delivery of the third 'sample' of our new ready to use Turnout (in P4) that we are hoping to introduce shortly. We will be posting photos of each on the website and would then be grateful to hear comments from customers.
Updated 11th September
We had a very busy Guildex at Telford last weekend, especially on the Saturday. Thanks to Jim who not only volunteered to help but also travelled independently via an address in Birmingham, in order to collect a sample of our new Wagon Kit the PH Design KVA wagon. Unfortunately Jim hit bad traffic on M42 and took more than an hour longer than expected. Luckily Pete & Luke set off first thing on Friday and got past the normal hold ups where the M5 joins the M6 before the queues built up, as they did by mid afternoon. Sunday was very quiet and a bit of a disappointment although it did allow Pete to wander around and meet with other traders to discuss some business arrangements that he is hoping to introduce in the near future.
Ready to Use OO Turnout on Display at Woking Show
Phil will have a sample of the prototype OO Ready to Use Turnout that we are hoping to introduce shortly. We would be grateful to hear comments from anyone who attends the show and is therefore able to send us their views on its look and proposed selling price.
Web Site Changes
Pete met with Sue last week for a brain storming day during which various changes to the web site were discussed and agreed. This will involve quite a lot of behind the scenes work to start with but should result in a more up to date and easier to use web site. We will also be carrying out a review of content as we are aware than some pages are out of date.
Please remember to check the latest ordering dates for next weekends show. We now carry too many products to take them all to shows and therefore it is essential to pre-order if you can, but please don't leave it until the last day, as this adds a lot of pressure to our preparations, in that we end up still trying to pick orders, whilst at the same time back stock up to load onto the van. A recipe for trouble!
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